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March 2, 2011
Posted at 2:34 pm

We drove for 10 hours to make an 8 hour trip last Thursday, from the wet coast to north Idaho. Unseasonable snow storms have pounded the area since; the weekend here in Boundary County ID was like something out of Antarctica: sub-zero temps and blinding snow reaching 18" depth. Sunday night a warm air mass moved in and water flowed everywhere, but heavy,wet snow continues to fall. It is snowing hard outside now, and the forecast calls for another 6 or 7 days of it.

An idea of the scale of distances we deal with up here: old farm house is 20 miles north of town; elder brother is in a nursing facility 30 miles south of town. We're driving back and forth through snowstorms to deal with both ends and stuff in between.

Spouse's elder brother is up & down like a yo-yo: dialysis knocks him for a loop, but he recovers strength the next day and can get out of bed and use his walker down the long nursing home hallways. Three times a week dialysis is a lousy way to live. It also unbalances his blood chemistry and requires careful monitoring and sometimes an insulin shot.

Spouse's elder sister was evaluated by a local physician and immediately admitted to the local hospital to treat a leg condition caused by extremely poor circulation. That is responding well, and we hope to see her admitted to the community assisted living center in another day or two. She is not a happy camper, leaving 50 years of hoarded stuff, trash, and filth behind at the farm house. Nobody is offering her a 20-mile ride to take her back to sort through it. She cannot live there; her elder brother was the only one able to stoke the fires and drive the car.

This would be an excellent time to consider the abysmal state of the U.S. health care system, which we find is being really hammered in the rural communities. There is a tangled web of private and public payments to wade through, and two elderly people who will see their life savings wiped out in less than a year, after which they will be "sponsored paupers" living on a medical plan that Congress is now attempting to dismantle.

My apologies for the long delay in Masi'shen Stranded. Real life is sometimes more convoluted than any fictional adventure.